Sunday, 26 October 2014


                                 You can only hear the wind and see the how fast the clouds pass over.

Its not the best time to be out at sea but in Shetland that's how 1/3 of the people earn a living. During this week ferries have been cancelled as a Hurricane hit.

All this weather is created by the difference in atmosphere pressure. Near the coast there is a bigger difference as the sun heats the land surface but with the sea having a greater capacity it takes a lot longer to heat up . The hot air above land rises but the air above the sea is cooler and as the two meet it causes conflict (wind).

Shetland experiences on average 42 days of gales per year with no month escaping, but January has an average of 8 days of gales.  In 1993 the Braer ran a ground off Fitful head in the south mainland but due to the high winds at the time the effect of the oil spill was reduced as the wind helped to disperse the oil slick. This included  25 days of gales during the month, 10 of which were storm force or more and 18 days of consecutive gales from the 1- 18 January.

The New year of 1992 will be remembered by everyone in Shetland as terrific winds hit the islands. The storm brought wind speeds of between 104- 125 mph with gusts up to 172 mph, which led to the deaths of two  people who had taken shelter in a tin hut on Hermaness, the wind hit and blew the hut up to a mile away. 

The weather recording equipment on Saxa Vord blew away as well with the  last (Unofficial) speed recorded at  an oil rig north of  Unst was 194 mph, this is equivalent to a Hurricane category 3 which carry warnings of severe damage. Waves of around 30 m would have been present on the west side of Shetland. Not a time to be out, especially at sea !!!!

With this weekend of gales, ships have been taking shelter in bays on the east and we have two close in near Mousa.

Living in a city the wind doesn't normally cause problems, the buildings usually block the gusts. But in Shetland a wide open landscape provides no shelter. Houses get battered, livestock seek what ever shelter they can often crouching down in a ditch but normally no one gets injured. Shetland people are used to dealing with the elements and with few trees to cause problems get on with life.

Last night was the windiest since we moved to Shetland with force 10 severe gales and rain sounding as though pebbles were being constantly been thrown at the windows. We thought that the boarded up window might give under the strain but it held and today the joiner arrived to add supports to the window. With the window at last on order we  expect that it might get fitted in the next three weeks, well hopefully. Shetland is the windiest place in the UK with a wind speed averaging 14.1 Knots throughout the year, often January is the worst month.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


Interesting week weather wise, mostly sunny and dry but Monday and Tuesday gale force winds forced the cancellation of the Northlink ferry Hjaltland on both days. Even the inter island ferry to Yell only ran once.

Even flights at Sumburgh were delayed with debris on the runway. Our friends in Sandwick had to have their basement pumped out by the fire brigade as did several others. Again we were concerned that the boarded up window wouldn't hold as it was flexing quite a bit but it did. We will be glad to get some prices in, its been six weeks now.

On the 17 October we have been in Shetland for six months, its past really quick and we are really happy. We think we have been really lucky that we managed to buy a house and had nearly all the work done in this short space of time. We have been very thankful to a number of friends which have recommended workmen, who have come out very quickly.

Last week the music continued with the Accordion and Fiddle Festival, we managed to get tickets for the events at Cunningsburgh and Gulberwick . It was great entertainment, starting at 7.30 and ending around 1 am and even included supper. Some great musicians including many Shetland players but also others from Norway, Orkney, Scotland and Ireland.

We ventured into Lerwick on  last Saturday and fell lucky as the Dim Riv was being loaded up from the sea over to a dry site at Grimista. The whole thing weighs in at 2.5 ton and it will stay under cover for the winter months.

The whole lamb we bought the other week is going down well and is very tasty, possibly not the best thing to eat as sheep peer through our window. Must get some more before the end of the month.

People are telling us to make sure that we are well stocked up for the winter, just in case Tesco doesn't have any food on there shelves. The other Christmas this happened and Tesco hire a Hercules transporter to fly the food in to Shetland as the ferry was unable to operate for several days due to the gales. We don't see any need to panic if this happens, unlike some people that seem to buy everything just before Christmas, even though the shop is only closed one day.

In Sheffield last year we did our normal shop for Christmas and found that a couple had three trolleys full of food. They had loaded the car but couldn't fit most of the food from the third trolley, so he had to leave his wife and drive for 1/2 hour to get home, unload and get back so well over an hours wait for his wife, luckily it wasn't raining. I bet after Christmas more than half the food would have been thrown out.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

In all happened in Lerwick

On Thursday night / Friday we experienced gales with up to 63 mph winds which shook the place. We had been told that these wooden houses creek and with the force of the wind hitting from the west with heavy rain it certainly did creek. We were concerned that the boarded up window might give way but it held firm, just hope we get sorted soon with a new window replacement.

A week ago the last cruise ship of the current season came into Lerwick from Bergen a day earlier than expected due to the bad forecast, it was on its way up to Iceland. This marked the largest number of passengers coming to Shetland in a year with 43,056, previous to that 37, 572 come in 2012.

Its always interesting walking round the harbour, yacht numbers may be down but there is still plenty of interest with the Swan- over 100 years old and other fishing vessels from  Lerwick and Norway.

Although not on the sea, this tartan van was also interesting
A week last Tuesday was also the day of the siege but we left Lerwick about two hours before it happened so missed it luckily. Armed Police were flown to to Shetland from Lossiemouth to deal with a man who arrived at Scalloway with a gun. He subsequently made his way over to Lerwick , where police advised locals to stay inside and they also blocked the south road leaving Lerwick . They detained him without trouble.

We saw the Sea king helicopter with the armed police travelling south after the incident. This is most unusual for Shetland , usually these types of things are only found in  Anne Cleaves books and on TV.

Mind you this is nothing to the nine people who have just been jailed to 36 years for armed robberies last year in the South Yorkshire area, one reason why we left.

We collected our pre-ordered lamb from the abattoir a few days ago, not really knowing how much meat we would get for our money we decided to get a small one and it easily fit in the freezer so the next one will be a lot larger. Just love the taste of lamb, and I had this when we went down to the Sumburgh hotel the other night to celebrate Diane's birthday- superb